Practical marketing plans for craft beverage

The team at Market Your Craft recently met with a craft beer client and made the recommendation they scale back their marketing scope to focus solely on product quality, innovation and the tasting room experience. Wait, what?! Why would we pass on a bigger brand storytelling opportunity? Truth is, not every craft beer brand needs a structured, multi-year marketing plan…yet. For most, it’s about the day-to-day blocking and tackling, gaining momentum and increasing their distribution footprint. This week’s email reflects our office brainstorming around the tools small-to-mid-sized producers use to BUILD versus the strategies employed by stand-out brands to SCALE. And where to locate your business on that spectrum.

summary

Brainstorming photo for marketing plan postWe want to reduce questions and eliminate anxiety around creating a marketing plan for your business. Many do-it-yourselfers will find the free resources available more than enough to help drive traffic to their tasting room immediately. When craft producers find a story and voice that resonates with local customers, they often look to define the brand before reaching out to new audiences. As the stand-out brands grow distribution and add geographies, more money is spent outside the tasting room to promote awareness, [retail] purchase, event sponsorship, etc., calling for a deliberate plan that delivers an appropriate ROI. Taking an objective look at the growth stage of your craft beverage brand prepares you for planning discussions involving goals, investment, execution and outcomes of successful marketing efforts.

the basics – survival tactics

From our research on The State of Craft, we know that there are over 27k licensed, bonded and otherwise recognized beer, wine, spirits and kombucha producers nationwide. Combine crowded markets with many craft beer choices and a growing consumer desire to eat and drink locally and you have the opportunity for tasting rooms to spur business growth. For example, the Brewers Association reported recently that “growth for small and independent craft brewers remained steady for the first half of 2019…with the majority of growth coming from microbreweries, taprooms and brewpubs.”

Women sharing a glass of whiskey for marketing plan postWe’ve seen this play out across all of craft beverage, where consumers increasingly crave a life full of experiences versus things. And while that’s good for local business, those same consumers have nearly infinite choice where they spend their time and money, so craft beer producers have to work harder to earn repeat visits. It’s for that reason we first recommend focusing the team’s time and attention on product quality and consistency; product innovation and variety; and guest experience.

For craft beverage brands at this stage in business development, your marketing plan should include work in the following areas to help make you more DISCOVERABLE:

  • Mobile-friendly website. Make sure your website is designed with a mobile-first approach, displaying well on all screens. Consider enabling a customer service messenger or real-time chat function to answer questions more quickly.
  • Statements of purpose. Customers support companies they believe in. Is it easy to find your company mission statement (why you’re in business, not your origin story)? Have you done what you can to ensure you’re marketing to a customer of legal drinking age (where applicable)?
  • Transparency. Allow visitors to review your craft beverage on the website and share to social channels. Consider embedding a social feed of tagged photos into your website.
MARKETING GOALLow Priority – support a product and tasting room focus
INVESTMENTFree – tools that are generally available to all, including competitors
EXECUTIONLow Difficulty – basic tasks can be completed by internal team members
OUTCOMETactical – incremental improvement over existing marketing, especially web and social channels; very little difference from competitors
MARKETING GOAL
Low Priority – support a product and tasting room focus
INVESTMENT
Free – tools that are generally available to all, including competitors
EXECUTION
Low Difficulty – basic tasks can be completed by internal team members
OUTCOME
Tactical – incremental improvement over existing marketing, especially web and social channels; very little difference from competitors

Market Your Craft provides free resources to help focus and expand the capabilities of your internal team.

getting crafty – recognizing breakout moments

Photo of a man cheersing with a beer for marketing plan postYou may look for certain milestones to help gauge the success of your craft beverage business: sales revenue, production volume, distribution, expanding to new locations, hiring and others. Meeting thresholds puts a brand in a power position where strategies for continued growth are considered. Whereas falling short forces owners and team members alike to take a hard look at what’s not working. We like to refer to these situations as “breakout moments,” during which a more robust marketing plan ensures everyone touching the brand is on the same page and your messaging is consistent.

For craft beverage brands at this stage in business development, your marketing plan should include work in the following areas to help make you more SHAREABLE:

  • Brand definition. It takes time, trial and error and a lot of feedback to identify what experience, voice, personality and vibe resonate with customers. These are the building blocks of a brand story that can help you reach new audiences of customers with similar likes and interests.
  • Engaging content. Build a content calendar of social media posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, leaving plenty of room for impromptu posts that support your brand story. Consider enabling the customer service bot feature in Facebook for added engagement.
  • Event strategy. With a clearly-defined brand as a guide, filter events, sponsorships and donations on their ability to add color, credibility and authenticity to your story. Discuss [highly-visible] collaborations with partners inside and outside the industry.
  • Followers. Make it easy for hand-raisers to follow you, including email or newsletter registration and promoting social media channels.
MARKETING GOALIntermediate Priority – correct a sales plateau or dip; help carve a niche in a crowded marketplace
INVESTMENTLow-to-Intermediate Cost – generally a combination of internal resources and outside contractor(s) on a project-to-project basis
EXECUTIONIntermediate Difficulty – requires agreement on business fundamentals like mission, vision and story, which can be challenging for owners and executives
OUTCOME Strategic – a marketing direction that serves to align all areas of the business, empowering team members to make real-time decisions that support a brand’s “True North”
MARKETING GOAL
Intermediate Priority – correct a sales plateau or dip; help carve a niche in a crowded marketplace
INVESTMENT
Low-to-Intermediate Cost – generally a combination of internal resources and outside contractor(s) on a project-to-project basis
EXECUTION
Intermediate Difficulty – requires agreement on business fundamentals like mission, vision and story, which can be challenging for owners and executives
OUTCOME
Strategic – a marketing direction that serves to align all areas of the business, empowering team members to make real-time decisions that support a brand’s “True North”

Market Your Craft can help define your brand in a way that makes decisions about when and where to market easier.  

behind-the-curtain – in order to grow, stay focused

With the opportunity to expand to new markets comes a greater need to focus on marketing. Increased distribution means growing in-market teams or trusting sales partners. Sitting on a crowded shelf at retail looks a lot different than the beautiful display in your tasting room. Your brand story may not mean the same to customers in other geographies. These and many other differences undoubtedly keep owners awake at night, fearing a lack of control will cause the ruin of the beverage they worked so hard to build. A strategic look at market factors and influences, along with a laser-focus on current and prospective customers, will go miles to protect your brand in new selling environments.

For craft beverage brands at this stage in business development, your marketing plan should include work in the following areas to help make you more SCALABLE:

  • Write an impactful brand story. A good brand story is the foundation for engaging craft beverage marketing. Your story is completely unique and amazing to you! And it sets the tone for how to communicate with employees, customers and the industry.
  • Know how to talk with customers. Customer engagement starts with a deep understanding of your audience, which helps us speak their language and connect. Successful brands often have multiple customers representing different sources of business growth.
  • Outsmart the competition. Companies may be similar in what they produce, how they distribute and who their ideal customer is. Learning from your competitors’ efforts helps you tell a better brand story.
  • Define content worth sharing. When you understand your competitors, it’s easier to identify sales opportunities left on the table. Plan to grab those sales with the help of a roadmap leading to rich, sharable content supporting your brand story.
  • Budget for marketing. Developing a marketing budget gives you the confidence that there is money earmarked for telling your brand story using paid media channels.
  • Identify resources to execute. Many small-to-mid-sized businesses use a combination of internal resources and trusted outside experts to deliver a successful storytelling campaign.
MARKETING GOALHigh Priority – plans call for expansion to new locations, markets or geographies where a strong brand is perhaps the only differentiator
INVESTMENTIntermediate-to-High Cost – brands consider building out their internal marketing teams and outside/agency support, including dedicated subject matter experts in brand, communication and event management
EXECUTIONHigh Difficulty – leadership requires annual or multi-year marketing plans and budgets to help manage/maintain growth
OUTCOME Storytelling – consistency of all branding efforts, both inside and outside of the home market
MARKETING GOAL
High Priority – plans call for expansion to new locations, markets or geographies where a strong brand is perhaps the only differentiator
INVESTMENT
Intermediate-to-High Cost – brands consider building out their internal marketing teams and outside/agency support, including dedicated subject matter experts in brand, communication and event management
EXECUTION
High Difficulty – leadership requires annual or multi-year marketing plans and budgets to help manage/maintain growth
OUTCOME
Storytelling – consistency of all branding efforts, both inside and outside of the home market

With onsite workshops, video tutorials and a suite of marketing engagement services, Market Your Craft can work with you to improve your BRAND VIBE.  

September 2019 content calendar – including GABF!

Social Setting image for marketing plan postYour customers require more engagement from social, which is why the team at Market Your Craft put together more than 60 ideas to lead you in designing a content calendar that helps drive tasting room traffic, increase customer clicks and earn new sales. The goal is to give you confidence that you’re getting the most out of social each month. In it you’ll find timely and topical talking points; lesser-known craft holidays worth messaging; and recos on ways to share your brand story, culture and energy with followers and fans.

September, 2019 | 1.8 MB, 39 pagesAvailable for purchase and immediate download >

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